On August 2, 2016, an order from New Hampshire’s Public Utilities Commissioners approving an agreement for an Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) is a big step forward in smart energy policy and a victory for our residents and businesses. The approved settlement agreement, endorsed by all parties including the state’s utilities, agencies, businesses and advocates, strengthens NH’s commitment to lower energy costs and will keep our energy dollars in our state’s economy. As stated in the order, “It is routine, as we have long required our utilities to help their customers save money by using less electricity and gas. It is remarkable as it is based on the setting of savings targets, not dollars spent.”
Under the EERS, NH will save 3.1% of its 2014 electric sales and 2.5% of gas sales by 2020, with a long-term goal of achieving all cost-effective energy efficiency, that is, all energy efficiency resources that are cheaper than traditional supply resources. In a state where the 2015 average retail price of electricity for residential customers was 18.52 cents, “energy efficiency is NH’s cheapest source of energy, costing around 3.76 cents per kilowatt hour,” according to consumer advocate Donald Kreis (Concord Monitor 3/29/16).
NH’s new EERS also increases funding for low-income customers and will expand the utilities’ existing efficiency programs, allowing residential, commercial, and industrial customers to lower their bills by taking advantage of programs for new construction, retrofits for existing structures, advanced lighting, and much more. Not only will program participants benefit from lower energy bills, ratepayers who choose not to participate will also realize savings through the shared generation, transmission and distribution benefits.
The approval of the EERS makes NH more competitive with its neighboring states in the region, most of which have had aggressive energy efficiency goals in place for over a decade. “NH’s EERS is solid proof that utilities, advocates, industry, and government recognize the enormous value energy efficiency has for our states’ residents, businesses, and economy at large and can work together toward a common goal of lowering electricity bills and keeping our energy dollars within NH borders,” says Kate Epsen of the NH Sustainable Energy Association. Read more at www.nhsea.org.